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Tips & Tricks: I’m in love with %b – Useful AutoText Shortcuts

blackberry-autotext Otis sent me an email about a few tricks he uses to enhance his typing experience on his BlackBerry. At first I was wondering why he bothered but after I setup a few of them I understood why he is in love with %b!  In case you didn’t know the %b code essentially translates into a backspace in AutoText.

This opens a whole new door of possibilities for AutoText shortcuts! I love when I learn new things that solve problems I did not know I even had. You may not agree with the shortcuts he uses %b for but it has a broad range of possibilities. I will hand the floor over to Otis:

I don’t remember whether or not I ever read about the %b code in tips about Auto Text, but I’ve started using it recently, and now I’m hooked!

The %b code, as you may know, inserts a backspace. Hmm. . . What’s so exciting about that? Well, I guess you could say I’m spoiled. I love that I rarely have to hit the apostrophe when I’m typing on my BlackBerry. Auto Text is pre-wired for most of the contractions and inserts them automatically. Sometimes, though, I get a little esoteric – "couldn’t’ve" or "I’d’ve." Also, I’ve gotten so used to not having to type apostrophes that it gets annoying to have to insert them for possessives – "John’s" or "Margaret’s." That’s where %b won my heart.

I’ve defined ‘ve" as "%b’ve; " so, now, I type "couldn’t ve," and it comes out "couldn’t’ve." Similarly, I type "John s," and it comes out "John’s." Once I got used to this, I got annoyed at having to hit the "alt" key for other punctuation, so I defined "j" as semi-colon ("%b; "), "b" as exclamation point ("%b! ") – you get the picture. I even defined "m" as period ("%b.") Why would I do that, when my Berry already knows to change two spaces into a period? Well, sometimes, I want a period without a space after it – such as when I use a period right before a quotation mark.

Henry Petroski wrote, "Necessity isn’t the mother of invention;  inconvenience is." These shortcuts certainly aren’t necessary, but they make my BlackBerry experience that much more convenient!

10 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. I’m a little confused on how this saves time in some cases. If you define “b” as the exclamation mark, how are you saving any characters typed? Is pressing Space + b any better than Alt + b? Same with the semicolon, etc.

  2. John you have to hit the space anyways after a alt+b to continue the email so now it is just alt+b

  3. No offense, but that’s got to be dumbest shortcut ever. Why would I type %b to get a backspace? I don’t get how this saves time whatsoever when I can just press the alt-k or alt-j for those things. Glad you found a use for this but seems a bit time consuming to go through all those steps when I can just press the alt key quickly.

    • While I agree that this usefulness of %b is limited for most of us, I just want to say that he isn’t actually typing “%b” in a message. He is using that shortcut within the AutoText itself, so that it happens behind the scenes.

  4. This is not a shortcut for everybody but it opens up a easy door for different autotext entries. I use AutoText all the time and its a lifesaver! The more I can do with it then the faster I can respond. For example say you work in percentages every day. Instead of hitting sym and then the percentage key you could just set it to be the letter p. Same thing with brackets [ ]

  5. Granted, this shortcut isn’t for everybody, and not to belabor the point, I’ll just add that, for me, it’s easier to hit the Space+j (etc.) than Alt+j. I type with my thumbs, and on my 8320 Curve, I have to bend my thumb inwards to hit the smaller Alt key, rather than extend it to hit the relatively large Space key.

    So, again, it’s not for all, but if I have the choice, I’ll use Space instead of Alt every time.

  6. He is NOT typing %b !!!

  7. A long time ago I decided it was inconvenient to to type Alt+V to get a question mark. Not sure why – maybe it was the placement of the Alt button which takes more effort to get to. Maybe it was having to hunt down the ? So I discovered %b back then and then just programmed autotext to replace a lone “q” with “%b?”.

  8. This is brilliant! Actually saving me from making an autotext for all the different variations of abbrevations connect to other words that I’ve been doing up until now. Awesome article, Ronen.

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